Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Odetta, a force of nature

Camp Connell, Ca -- People sometimes think of folk music as a quaint experience, best left to children and old men.
But Odetta was one of those people who lifted spirits, drove societal change, and entertained us all at the same time. When you listened to her sing, you could hear the voices of people long dead, telling their stories and their hopes and fears.
History spoke in ever song.
I was a teenager living in Mobile, Alabama, when I first heard her sing on one of her early albums. She was almost too powerful to take, but also too wonderful to ignore.
She was one of the reasons I bought a guitar in 1956, and start listening and learning music that speaks of the hearts of people, their pains and their joys.
Music has been one of the great blessings in my life, and Odetta is one of the people who blessed a lot of us.
She died this week at 77. A well-done obit is at the link below, and be sure and take the time to listen to the video link, which includes an interview (only slightly marred by the intrusive interviewer) and some wonderful renditions of her songs.
One of the quotes I liked best: folk musicians don't steal one another's songs, they "pass the tradition along."
Check the obit:

Me, I'm heading for the basement to pull out my old 33 rpm recording of "I'm on my way..."


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